The Politics of Good Intentions: History, Fear and Hypocrisy in the New World Order

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ISBN-13: 978-0691125664
ISBN-10: 069112566X
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Editorial Reviews


"David Runciman combines the expositional clarity of a talented political journalist and commentator with the conceptual concerns, historical depth, erudition, and theoretical sophistication of a gifted scholar. The result is a lucidly and gracefully written book that usefully probes fundamental issues raised by both the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and the highly dubious patterns of response associated with the political leadership of George W. Bush in the United States and Tony Blair in the United Kingdom."---Richard Falk, International History Review

"David Runciman provides a brilliant analysis of the contemporary politics of fear by situating the post-9/11 world within a layering of temporal periods and using the broad historical time in juxtaposition with 'election time' and 'news time'. Through such a prism the fear generated and hypocrisy of much current political discourse and justification for the pursuit of war in Iraq is dissected."---David Ryan, International, Affairs

"Runciman concludes, there is little new about the new world order. Whatever difficulties it throws up are best dealt with by going back to political basics--having strong parties, muscular parliaments, balanced constitutions, an alert judiciary and a watchful public. It is a measure of how far we have traveled from the liberal democratic norm that this comes across as a radical cry."---Alison Rowat, The Herald

"Mr. Runciman is a keen observer of contemporary political life whose sophisticated sense of history both tempers and enlivens his often thrilling polemics. Over the course of the collection, Mr. Runciman compares the political fallout from Iraq to the Suez crisis, uses the model of Weimar Germany to explore the possibilities of Iraqi reconstruction and democracy, and borrows from thinkers like Max Weber to shed light on contemporary politics. The results are never pedantic and almost always deeply revealing."---Jason Moring, New York Observer

"The Politics of Good Intentions . . . signals a welcome re-engagement of contemporary political thinkers with politicians' thought. We can but hope that Runciman's efforts will be reciprocated.", Political Studies Review

"This is a powerful piece, a short critique of the types of rhetorical arguments used by the creator of New Labor in his notorious 'preacher on a tank' mode. Runciman assails the use of 'new dangers' as a justification for 'new obediences,' the way that if a 'risk' is 'new,' a democratic leader need not make the normal informed balance of known risk and known freedoms, and thus the way that not taking the country to war becomes a 'risk no responsible government could afford to take.' . . . Essential for understanding how he is likely to be judged when he leaves office? Sadly, absolutely."---Peter Stothard, Globe and Mail

"The proximate cause of Tony Blair's decline is self-evident: the Iraq war and its sequel. However, as David Runciman shows in this mordant study of political hypocrisy and the misuse of history in our time, the inability to distinguish make-believe from facts, the contempt for due process and the almost willful ignorance of history that were the hallmarks of Blai''s Iraq adventure could, and should, have been detected well before it."---David Marquand, New Statesman


"Wonderfully written, lively, and energetic, The Politics of Good Intentions provides an illuminating guide to a host of contemporary issues, both practical and theoretical. Runciman marches to the beat of no drummer; his analysis is invariably fresh and often remarkably creative."―Cass Sunstein, Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor, Law School and Department of Political Science, University of Chicago

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Reviewed in the United States on July 20, 2006
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Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 27, 2014
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